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MDOT explores possibility of drone corridors between Michigan and Ontario

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MDOT explores possibility of drone corridors between Michigan and Ontario

LANSING, Mich. (WJRT) - The state of Michigan is working to create a "highway in the sky."
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Michigan and Ontario are collaborating on a first-of-its kind technology initiative involving drones.
The Michigan Department of Transportation said this study will explore whether small drones can be flown beyond the line of sight of a pilot.

They would be used for making small deliveries or even medical transport. And it could be a big step for the trade industry.
"Potentially medical goods, prescriptions, unfortunately now COVID tests. But also, the traditional consumer movement of goods, packages delivered to your door -- things like that," said Bryan Budds, deputy administrator for MDOT's Office of Aeronautics.

In 2020 alone, two-way goods trade between Michigan and Ontario was valued at $44.8 billion.
"Our international border distance is so short in terms of distance, but the impact is huge," said Budds.
He said most drones must be kept in the eye line of the pilot, but this study is hoping to change that in certain situations.
"Generally, the way to overcome that and maintain a safe operation is to put in a variety of pieces of infrastructure. So, things like increased communication, some radar coverage," said Budds. "So, that is still a safe buffer and command of control when it is beyond the visual line of the pilot."
That is the kind of infrastructure that will be looked at through this study.
Budds said having the ability to fly these across the Canadian border could another option for current supply chain issues and the future of how we move goods.
"There are industry concepts for pretty significantly sizes, essentially, cargo aircraft that could potentially use the system as well," said Budds. "So, that's one of the things we are really interested in putting that infrastructure in to enable that repeatable operation."

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